Study: RHUBARB. 2.3 Rhubarb, wishing it was apple.
This is an apple.
The apple was known in Latin as malus, because apples are evil.
Malus lent its name to malic acid, which is responsible for the happily bright acidity of a green apple. Not long after Benjamin Franklin became the first recorded person to import rhubarb to America, the genius who discovered malic acid, like all those with culinary insight, was beheaded by his French countrymen. This is how revolutions fail.
Lavoisier’s malic acid, long used to tarten up sour candies, has recently become a popular molecular gastronomy ingredient, bringing a rounded tartness to a dish.
Because apple’s malic acid content is the secret to its tempting combination of sweet and tart, to keep up, rhubarb is all the more malicious.
Rhubarb’s sharp taste comes not from the kidney-clogging oxalic acid, but from the molecularly chic malic acid. But rhubarb overdoes it with extreme acidity, and the pleasant crispness of raw green apple gets lost in the rhubarb’s stringy tartness.
Somewhat toxic (oxalic) acid:
Tasty (malic) acid:
Even a minimal amount of processing can bring forward the apple-like malic qualities of rhubarb. Macerating the rhubarb in sugar for a very brief time takes the raw edge off the rhubarb, letting the malic taste come through
Finely slicing the rhubarb with a mandolin — use a handguard or Kevlar glove — eliminates most of the stringiness, while creating surface area for flavor.
This salad pairs rhubarb with traditional flavors accompanying apple.
Taste: The rhubarb has a nice crunch. Flavors of tart apple or pear.
Rhubarb: Trim 1-2 thick rhubarb stalk per serving, rinse, and dry. Pack rhubarb stalks in sugar and refrigerate for 20-40 min. (5 in. of rhubarb uses only about 1 tbsp. sugar.) Remove excess sugar. Slice rhubarb on angle to .25 cm thick.
Cherries: Soak dried tart cherries in rhubarb juice for 2 hours to overnight, if desired. Drain.
Vinaigrette: Mix vinegar and honey to taste (a 2:1 ratio works). Add a few drops rose water. While whisking, drizzle 1 part olive oil into 1 part vinegar mixture.
Toss greens with vinaigrette. Add crumbled goat cheese, walnuts and cherries. Top with rhubarb slices. Salt and pepper to taste.
Dried tart cherry.
Salad greens of choice.
White wine or apple cider vinegar.
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